The former Vancouver resident and eight-time national champion will have to wait another year for her fourth trip to the Olympics
Kara Winger will be another year older, but the way she is throwing the javelin, she is confident that she will be competing in Tokyo in 2021.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday announced the 2020 Summer Games would be postponed due to COVID-19. The new schedule is yet to be determined but it will be no later than summer 2021.
Winger, a 2004 graduate of Skyview High School, is hoping to compete in the Olympic Games for the fourth time.
“I think it’s the right call,” she said via phone from her home in Colorado. “Two days ago, 36 hours ago, the IOC said they were going to make a decision in four weeks. That was unacceptable to athletes. The fact that they heard that and then made this decision, that’s nice.”
Athletes all over the world were having trouble training, practicing during the pandemic. They were also under the stress of the unknown.
“I’m just glad there is some kind of announcement that people can trust,” Winger said. “It’s official.”
Winger won three state championships at Skyview as Kara Patterson before excelling at Purdue University. As a professional athlete, she has won eight national titles and competed in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics.
She remains the American record holder after she recorded a mark of 66.67 meters (218 feet, 8 inches) in 2010.
That might seem like a long time ago, but Winger had a resurgence of sorts in the 2019 season. She posted the fifth-best mark of her career in winning the gold medal at the Pan-Am Games in Peru.
“My series was phenomenal. I had struggled for a month before Pan-Am,” she said.
She made it her mission to relax and have a good time.
“I discovered a couple technical things that were working for me,” she said.
There was Winger, atop the podium, while the national anthem was played.
“Arguably the biggest win of my career,” she said. “For me personally, a really, really big step.”
Making it even more memorable, good friend and fellow American Ariana Ince won the bronze medal. Winger said it was the first time in decades that two American women made it to the podium in the javelin.
From there, Winger finished fifth in the World Championships in Qatar. It was just the second time in her career that she had made the finals (top 12) of a major championship.
“Nerves are a different animal” at Worlds, she said.
Yet in the middle of the competition, she had the experience and maturity to bring a calmness over her, allowing her to excel.
Peru, Qatar, all over Europe. That was just some of her travel in 2019, the life of a professional athlete.
“I love traveling the world to throw the javelin, and I love the community,” Winger said. “I never would have dreamt I’d have the worldview that I do from being a track and field athlete.”
In fact, she said she makes a point of saying “Wow” every day.
In 2001, she picked up a javelin for the first time as a freshman at Skyview. Last spring, she was training with a friend on a Western Norwegian island for 10 days, then competing in a small meet outside of Prague.
She has not counted how many countries she has visited, but Winger makes it a point to take in the sights and sounds of wherever her sport takes her.
“Life is more than throwing the javelin,” she said. “I like to see the whole world, not just track stadiums.”
The goal was to compete in the Olympics this summer, then finish her own world tour at the World Championships in Eugene in 2021.
With the Olympics moved to 2021, the World Championships might be moved to another year, as well.
If the World Championships are moved to 2022, Winger said she will keep training, keep competing for another season. Winger will turn 34 this April, but she feels like she is in great shape.
“I’m not after traditional fitness. I’m after javelin fitness,” she said. “I don’t see how I couldn’t go to Eugene in 2022 if that gets pushed back. Eugene is important to me. I would love all of Vancouver, Washington, to come down and watch. It’s the first time Worlds will ever be on American soil. It’s a very big deal.”
For now, she continues with her training. She throws at a nearby park and has equipment in her home, and at her coach’s home. Don’t worry, she promises she is staying 6 feet away from others.
“There are ways to do it and still feel like I’m being a good human,” she said.
She also said the decision to postpone the Games this summer was good for humanity.
“The Olympics are supposed to be about global participation,” Winger said. “It was looking like it wasn’t going to happen. I’m in full support of (postponement).”